Since time immemorial security, agencies have been practicing the act of stopping and frisking people when they suspect that victims might be armed or have illicit materials. For example, in the Terry v. Ohio (1868), Terry a police officer saw three men who looked suspicious and acting in a manner likely to suggest they wanted to rob. Upon stopping and frisking them, he found a gun with one of them. Although there was no probable cause, the police acted on suspicion, which later led to the arrest of three people (Eterno 38). The Supreme Court judge held that although the move by the police helped to deter crime, Terry did not have a probable cause to stop and frisk the three men. These ruling encouraged legislators to introduce the fourth amendment, which provides that people rights to be seized and searched shall not be infringed unless a warranty is issued based on probable cause. There have been heated debates as to whether the police abide by the fourth amendment because of increased cases of stop and frisk practice by the police. A group of scholars, legislators and other elite group are for the idea of stopping and frisking, while another group is opposed to it. Based on this overview, the paper seeks to conduct an argumentative critical analysis on stop and frisking practice of security agencies.
Analysis of stopping and frisking
According to reports released by NYPD in 2011, the security agencies stopped almost 700,000people and among the people who were stopped and frisked by the police, 87% were Latinos and Blacks. Based on this racial profiling evident in the NYPD, two council members, a Latino and a Black also experienced the act of stopping and frisking in 2014 (Ming Francis 181). To them, the act by police was based on race and thereby infringes human rights. Following that act, they supported a bill “the right to know act,” which sought to strengthen the fourth amendment. Many New Yorkers especially non-whites are opposed to the police act of stopping and frisking because they feel segregated and discriminated as opposed to whites. In one of the rulings, the New York state Supreme Court Judge Justice Anil Singh held that the police act of stopping and frisking violates the fourth amendment of the constitution and it goes further enhancing racial profiling. For that reason, the judge authorized the public to sue security agencies who practiced their stop and frisk roles based on race (Schebmand Sharma 59). Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York supported the move by the judge stating that the act is unconstitutional.
Based on the above results, advocates that argue against the stop and frisk policy of security agencies have attested that it yields to minimum contraband of weapons or illicit materials. This was evident in the statistics released by the New York Police department in 2011 (partly shown above). Additionally, in 2005, only 2.5% of stops and frisks were successful in deterring crimes; accordingly, the rate of crime deterrence is low (Travis & Edwards 18). For this reason, the act should be abandoned and instead formulate another policy, which considers human rights and at the same time passes the effectiveness test of reducing the rates of crime.
On a rational platform, criminals do not walk with guns as if they are in a war field. The stop and frisk policy does not deter the rate of crime because criminals have always been clever in their efforts to commit crime. Apart from that, the suspicion of an innocent person on the streets does not necessarily mean he or she is a criminal; instead, he may be suffering from psychological problems. Nevertheless, some have argued that stopping and frisking people on reasonable doubts has helped in reducing murder and homicide rates especially within urban centers of New York and other cities. To support the move, Courts of Supreme has defended the police move, in many cases, to stop and frisk as long as the move is not done based on racial profiling (Schebmand Sharma 63).
The New York Police Department has come out strongly to defend their move to stop and frisk suspicious people many of whom have been Latinos and Blacks. Statistically, security agencies have outlined that Latinos, Blacks are 75% more likely to engage in crime as opposed to whites, and this forms their basis for stopping and frisking most of the suspects from this two minority groups (Travis & Edwards 18). Despite the evidence in data, the minority groups have been crying foul and lamenting that they should be handled in a just way just like others in the society. Additionally, they have argued that the whole practice of stopping and frisking without a probable cause or a legal warranty amounts to violation of law, which most victims are vowing to sue security agencies.
Proponents siding with the NYPD have argued that stop and frisk reduces the rates of crime and that there is no reason for cause of alarm when a police officer stops someone and frisks him or her. According to this group, one should not have any problems about the act especially when he is innocent, a co-operation of five minutes cannot change someone’s schedule for the whole day. On the contrary, many New Yorker citizens especially non-whites have complained about the police use of force when searching or frisking them. According to some innocent people, when one has co-operated and stopped, he or she should be informed the reason of being stopped and being frisked. Based on this analogy, a rational person will not resist the police plea.
Stop and frisk move by security agencies is a good move as long as it is done within the framework of the constitution. Ideally, the fourth amendment provides that people’s right to be seized and searched should be protected and that only a court warranty or probable cause should allow a security agency to stop and frisk a suspect. I believe that a criminal with a gun or contraband material cannot walk along the streets of a city or places where he knows he can encounter security agencies. In this case, the stop and frisk policy cannot be effective in deterring the rates of crimes. For instance, drug traffickers are clever because they use children or women to distribute drugs to their clients within the city. This group has many funds that allow them to organize the movement in such a way that it cannot raise any suspicion. Therefore, if the police are basing their use of stop and frisk policy on suspicion then criminals might get away with criminal offenses just because they never showed suspicion behavior. On the other hand, the police may interfere with the liberty of innocent people (who might be suspicious because of other reasons) at the expense of criminals. The fact that blacks and Latinos have committed high rates of crime does not necessarily mean any Black or Latino along the city streets is a suspect. That analogy is wrong and should not be used in implementing any policy aimed at deterring crime. I believe security agencies have necessary tools, which do not violate bill of rights to deter the rate of crime.
I consider that stop and frisk policy alerts criminals to be aware and evade the force of law. It is a common for the public to share information about the police because many people have never trusted security agencies as an institution to deter crime because of corruption, brutality, and unjust practices. For this reason, if the police are stopping and frisking people along a given street, those who have go through the practice will alert others and criminals might get information and evade police arrests.
Stop and frisk policy has been practiced for a long time, but it was until 1868 when the fourth amendment regulated its use because of protection of human rights. The enactment of this legal provision has raised controversial debates because security agencies have been failing to adhere to the fourth amendment in their bid to deter crime. On the other hand, issues relating racial profiling, the failure to deter crime and the rationality behind criminal movement has been the rationale behind its abandonment. Proponents of the policy have asserted that it deters crime and for that reason, it should be upheld. From a person point of view, stop, and frisk policy should be upheld as long as it is done within the clear provision of the law.
Eterno, John. The New York City Police Department: The Impact of Its Policies and Practices. Florida: CRC, 2014. Print.
Francis, Megan Ming. Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State. London: Cambridge UP, 2014. Print.
Scheb, John M., and Hemant Sharma. An Introduction to the American Legal System. Third ed. New York: Aspen Publications, 2012. Print.
Travis, Lawrence F., and Bradley D. Edwards. Introduction to Criminal Justice. Eighth ed. London: Routledge, 2014. Print.